Are you an aspiring influencer? Do you own a business or sell products online? Instagram offers a social media platform to build an audience and achieve your goals. Gaining thousands of followers on Instagram is more challenging than you think. It’s not as simple as opening an account and throwing up daily posts. You need a refined approach to achieve results.
How to Get More Followers on Instagram – 5 Strategies for Success
It would help if you had a strategy to make it on the platform. A plan offers you a set of best practices and tactics designed specifically to gain followers. Without a plan, you’re dead in the water. This post unpacks a series of strategies and tactics you can use to send your follower count to the moon.
Strategy 1 – Lay the Foundation for Success
It’s time to set up your account and plan your strategy before you create your first post. Start things off the right way. Follow these tactics to give your plan a solid foundation.
Tactic 1 – Develop an In-Depth Marketing Strategy
If you want to be successful on Instagram, or any social media for that matter, you need a plan. YourYour marketing plan consists of a set of strategies designed to achieve your goals. Typically, a marketing plan has goals. You either want to build awareness, improve conversion, etc.
For this post, we’re focusing on building your following on Instagram. We need a set of strategies to make this a reality and swell your following into influencer status. Each of these has a series of tactics you can implement every day to achieve your goal of gaining more followers.
Tactic 2 – Understand Your Target Audience
Identifying your target audience is the first task in building your foundational strategy. Understanding your market demographics is critical to building content geared specifically toward these people. Ask yourself the following questions.
- How old is the average person you’re trying to reach?
- Where do they reside?
- How do they use Instagram, and what are they doing on the platform?
- What are the problems they’re trying to solve in their life?
Understanding the answers to these questions lets you build a content strategy catering to their specific needs. When you know their pain points, you can consistently deliver content that they find interesting, boosting engagement from your audience.
Tactic 3 – Be Consistent with Your Brand Aesthetic and Story
You need to take a calculated approach to craft your content. Different features like Stories, Reels, image posts, etc., are fine, provided you keep your theme and brand voice consistent.
The idea is to create posts that the viewer instantly recognizes from your brand. Think of big brands like Nike and Coca-Cola and how they manage their marketing campaigns. You know you’re watching a Nike commercial before introducing the Swoosh and slogan at the end of the advert.
That’s the design goal for what you’re trying to create with your content strategy. Your audience should instantly recognize your posts, and your Instagram post grid should appear as a single cohesive unit. For instance, if you always post in black-and-white, adding a color post will break the theme.
Tactic 4 – Optimize Your Content with Keywords
SEO isn’t only for Google. It applies to Instagram too. You can search for usernames, hashtags, and location tags on the Explore page. Leveraging these search functions help you get your content in front of people searching those terms.
If you’re an influencer, you’ll also need to keep your username in line with your brand, company, or personal name. For instance, if your company is Johns Plumbing, choose @JohnsPlumbing or @Johns_Plumbing as your Instagram username.
Tactic 5 – Optimize Your Profile and Bio
Your profile and bio are where prospective followers decide if they want to follow your account. They may come across your post on the Explore page and click on your profile to get the further context of your content. Your bio is the first thing they look at when opening your profile.
The bio contains 150 characters describing who you are and what you do. If you’re a gamer looking to reach influencer status, you could talk about the games you play, your age, gender, and what you want to achieve with your gaming.
Over 60% of the people that visit your profile don’t follow your account. If your bio is appealing, all they have to do is look up and tap the follow button, so give them a good reason to take this action. Use concise language, and don’t write word salad. See where you can use emojis to save on space.
Include a profile photo in a 360 x 360-pixel format. The display size is 110 x 110 pixels, but by uploading in 360 x 360, you get a richer, high-quality look to your photo. Remember to account for the circular design of your profile template, and don’t cut off the corners.
Strategy 2 – Create an Engaging Content Strategy
Your content strategy is the backbone of your marketing plan on Instagram. Every post you create must be purposeful and visually engaging, drawing attention from your target audience.
Tactic 1 – Write Captions that Catch Attention and Inspire Action
Captions are an important tool for capturing attention. When someone opens your post, they’ll read the caption. You get 2,200 characters to add to the caption, but that doesn’t mean you should use all of them. You can include hashtags in the caption, but don’t overdo it. Three to five hashtags are all you need to improve the searchability of your post.
Place the most important words in the front of the caption. If the caption is more than 125 characters, the user must tap “more” to see the rest. Chances are they aren’t going to do that. So, frontload the caption content as much as you can.
Use your caption to inspire engagement with your viewers. Ask questions to get replies from your viewer or tell them to take a specific action, such as liking and commenting on your post. Add emojis to your caption to make them more visually appealing. Experiment with your caption length, content, and hashtags, and see which formats give the best results.
Tactic 2 – Post Shareable Content
Post inspiring, engaging, and shareable content. Your audience will share your content if it’s worth doing so. This tactic relates to your foundational strategy, where you identified your target audience.
For instance, if you’re a comedian, people want to share funny content. The viewer might share a how-to video of you building a cabinet if you’re a carpenter. What kind of content do your viewers want to see? By adding value to your community, your audience will promote your content for you.
Tactic 3 – Use Instagram Stories
Viewers can share your posts in their Instagram Stories. The Stories feature has one of the best engagement rates of all the features on the platform. Feed your audience content they find insightful and promote your expertise to bring value to their viewer experience.
More than 500 million Instagram accounts publish Stories every day. Of those, 45% of Stories are by brands and companies. Stories are highly engaging, allowing you to implement a content mix of videos, images, stickers, hashtags, and location tags.
The only issue with Stories is that, like Snapchat, they disappear after 24 hours. If you receive high engagement from a Story and want it to stick around, pin it to your profile to keep the likes, comments, and shares rolling.
Pinned Stories highlights are a great way to introduce new prospective followers an introduction to the content they can expect when following your account.
Tactic 4 – Keep a Consistent Posting Schedule
Your followers expect you to live up to a consistent posting schedule. If they’re used to seeing you post a story daily, they expect you to live up to that posting commitment. Failing to live up to that schedule results in a loss of followers and a drop in engagement.
It might seem that just because you’re publishing content on social media, you don’t have to worry about posting consistency, but you’re wrong. Consistency is key to success. Social media works by giving your audience a consistent drip of dopamine to their online experience.
If you fail to deliver, your audience feels like you’re letting them down, and they might start to resent you as they experience a lack of dopamine from their daily social media experience. According to the experts, the best posting cadence is as follows.
- One to two Stories a day.
- Two image posts a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
You can fill in this foundation with a Reel every other day and publish IGTV and Instagram Live streams for live events you attend throughout the week.
Tactic 5 – Schedule Posts and Stories
Posting at the right time is critical to getting eyeballs on your content. No one will ever see your content if you’re posting outside of peak user times on the platform. That means your posts have less chance of appearing on the Explore page.
Landing on the Explore page is the key to getting maximum eyeballs on your posts and optimal engagement. When you post at peak times, you drive engagement, and the algorithm notices this activity.
If the platform AI sees people engaging with your post, they assume you’re adding value to the community, pushing your content onto the explore page. Post at the following times to get the best bang for the buck with your publishing schedule.
- Monday 6am to 10am, 10pm.
- Tuesday 2am, 4am, 9am.
- Wednesday 7am to 8am, 9am.
- Thursday 6am to 8am, 11pm.
- Friday 5am, 1pm to 3pm.
- Saturday 11am, 7pm to 8pm.
- Sunday 7am to 8am, 4pm.
According to the experts, the optimal time to post on Instagram is between 8 am to 12 pm PST or 4 pm to 5 pm PST during weekdays. If you’re not awake at these times, you can use a scheduling tool to post your content to the platform automatically.
Strategy 3 – Make It Easy for People to Find Your Account
It’s no good having an amazing content strategy if no one ever sees your posts. We’ve discussed the importance of scheduling your content at the right times. Using tags and tools and cross-promoting your content across platforms gives you more reach.
Tactic 1 – Use Relevant Hashtags
Hashtags aren’t only for Twitter. They’re a critical part of your Instagram content strategy as well. Caption content isn’t searchable on Instagram, so you’ll need to rely on tags to push your content in front of more eyeballs.
Hashtags are searchable through the Explore page. By including trending hashtags in your posts, you get more attention from people searching for those terms. It’s important to use specific hashtags, not generalized ones. For instance, #Love is an example of a hashtag that will do nothing for your post.
Use a tool to discover the top-trending hashtags in your niche. Good examples of hashtag tools are Influencer Marketing Hub, Ritetag, Hastagify, and Photerloo.
Tactic 2 – Use Location Tags
Location tags are also searchable through the Explore page. These tags greatly benefit your posting campaign if you own a local business or an influencer visiting a destination. For instance, if you’re at the Gucci store in New York City, you can use the location tag to attract attention from people searching for that specific location.
If you own a business, like a restaurant, you can use geolocation tags to promote your restaurant. You could use an incentive strategy, like offering your customers a free cocktail, shot, or dessert if they post a picture of them at your restaurant and tag you in their post.
Tactic 3 – Tag People
Tagging people is another great tactic for getting more eyeballs on your content. If you want to catch an influencer’s attention, you could use the “mention” tagging feature by placing their username in your post with the @” symbol in front of it, similar to how you do it on Twitter.
The user receives a notification that you mentioned in a post, and they’ll likely open your post to see why you @ them. Targeting users with a good chance of engaging with your post is important to its success.
If they reply to your post, they might share it with friends or tag other users to draw more attention to your post. Don’t bother tagging mega-influencers like Kim Kardashian. They’ll never reply to your post. They might even tell you not to “@” them, causing drama from their fans toward your account.
You can tag users in your Stories. The user can share this content to their Story with a few taps, giving your post-exposure to their followers. If their followers find the content appealing, they can tap through and land on your profile and read your bio to decide if they want to follow you.
Tactic 4 – Cross-Promote On Social Networks
Cross-promote your Instagram content with your other social accounts. Share it to your Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok account to drag eyeballs from these platforms to your IG profile. Let your followers know you have an IG profile and launch a CTA for them to follow your posts.
Don’t leave a direct link to your IG account on other platforms. All social media platforms follow the model of retaining users on their sites for as long as possible. By leaving a link, the algorithm will suppress your post to prevent people from seeing it, clicking the link, and departing their site for IG.
Instead, leave your username handle and let them search for you on the site. You can implement a competition to add an incentive to get the user to find you on IG. For instance, you could ask them to follow your account and tag you in a post if they want to win a prize.
Tactic 5 – Embed Your Instagram Posts in Your Blog
If you’re a blogger, you can embed your Instagram posts within your blog posts. The post appears in a block in the blog, and it looks exactly the same as how it appears in your Instagram feed. Readers can click the content, and the API pulls them through to your Instagram profile.
It’s a great tactic to attract your blog followers to your IG profile. You can also install the Instagram icon on your blog on the post’s header or footer. Readers can click this icon, pulling them through to your account, where they can follow your profile.
Tactic 6 – Use QR Codes
Your Instagram profile has a unique, scannable QR code. People interested in visiting your profile can capture this QR code on their device, instantly following our account. You can post the QR code on your other social media profiles and won’t be subject to the same penalties as leaving an active link in your post.
The QR code is also great for displaying brochures, posters, and other marketing materials on outdoor mediums. You can also feature it on your YouTube videos to attract new followers from people following your YouTube content.
Tactic 7 – Get Your Content on the Explore Page
The final tactic in this strategy is possibly the most important on this list. The Explore page can help you grow your following to influencer status almost overnight. The Explore page showcases top-rated content from the site that receives high engagement rates from users.
If you post at the right time and your followers start engaging with your post, the AI determines your content adds value to your community. The algorithm will place it on the Explore page, and users scrolling through related content on the Explore page are likely to come across your post.
The Explore page serves content from accounts you follow and those you don’t, but the algorithm thinks you’ll enjoy this content. So, if you land on the Explore page, you’ll gain exposure to millions of people scrolling through content directly related to your niche.
Strategy 4 – Engage with Your Instagram Community
Bill Gates once said, “Content is king on the internet.” He was right then, and this saying still holds water today. However, today, content is king, but engagement is queen. You have a good chance of landing on the Explore page with the right engagement strategy.
Tactic 1 – Follow Industry-Relevant Accounts
Social media is a game of following and following back. Unless you’re a celebrity or massive influencer like Kylie Jenner, you must build a para-social relationship. That means you have to follow people to get them to follow you back.
When you follow someone, they’ll generally look at your profile and decide if they want to return the gesture. So, it’s important to be strategic with who you follow. Don’t follow big accounts with millions of followers unless they are a big deal in your niche. Chances are, these accounts won’t follow you back.
Following smaller accounts with under 25k followers is the better tactic in this case. These accounts are actively managed, and the owner will likely follow you back. Visit the “Suggestions For You” section to find relevant profiles for your niche.
These suggestions pop up in your feed between Stories and posts. Or on the right side of the screen on the desktop client. Don’t follow too many people at once, or the algorithm will assume you’re a bot and suspend your account or limit the number of accounts you can follow.
Tactic 2 – Collaborate with Influencers and Brands
To supercharge your following to influencer status, you need to work with other influencers. Around 60% of Instagram users say they’re more likely to follow an account if it’s promoted by an influencer, so it’s a surefire success tactic to launch collaborative campaigns with influencers in your niche.
Before you start reaching out to Joe Rogan and Cardi B for a collab, calm down. These accounts are not interested in collaborating with you, and even if they do, it will cost you $100,000+ for a featured post with these top-level influencers.
Instead, make a list of “micro-influencers” in your niche. A micro-influencer is an account with 50K followers or less. These accounts are actively managed by the owner, and there’s a good chance they’ll reply to your request for collaboration. Like you, they’re looking to grow their audience and get paid from their marketing strategy.
Smaller accounts with similar followings might be interested in a “shoutout-for-shoutout” campaign with you. This strategy won’t cost you any money, they’ll do it to leverage your audience, and you get the same from them.
Tactic 3 – Pin Top Comments
Engagement is critical to your success on Instagram. If you reply to someone’s comments on your posts, it’s validating what they have to say. This action results in a surge of dopamine to the user as they see someone they view as an influencer reply to their post; it produces a similar reaction as chatting with them face-to-face.
Instagram allows you to pin up to three comments on every post. Pinning encourages engagement from your followers, and it benefits them too. Those users reading through them may decide to follow that user, boosting their following.
Pinning comments incentivizes people to leave more likes and comments on your account. This additional activity means your post has a better chance of landing on the Explore page and attracting new followers to your account.
Strategy 5 – Don’t Settle, Keep Innovating
Our final strategy involves a few inorganic strategies to attract more followers to your account. While these strategies might cost you some money, they produce results fast.
Tactic 1 – Run Community Contests
You can incentivize people to follow you with content. Your entry process should involve asking new accounts to follow you and tag a friend. When their friends see your post, they may decide to join the contest and repeat the action. It’s a great way to get passive momentum from your marketing.
It’s important to be transparent with your contest results. Take a photo of your winner with their prize, and have them promote your account in their post. If you promise someone something and don’t deliver, it will disastrously affect your following.
Tactic 2 – Run Advertising Campaigns
Up til now, we’ve discussed organic strategies for growing your Instagram following to influencer status. While they’re all effective, sometimes it’s a good idea to toss money at your marketing plan. If you have a few dollars available, try launching an Instagram advertising campaign.
Unlike buying followers, an advertising campaign is a legit way to attract genuine followers to your account that engage with your content strategy. You can set up your advertising criteria and laser-target your audience with your campaign. It’s a great way to get followers fast.
Tactic 3 – Use Instagram Insights
Business accounts on Instagram have access to a built-in analytics dashboard. These tools allow you to access insights relating to how users engage with your profile and posts. You can look at the reach you get from your posts and demographic info about your followers.
Regularly reviewing this data gives insight into the success of your content strategy. You get all the information you need at your fingertips to determine if you’re moving in the right direction or need to adjust your plan.
Look at your top-performing posts and see which times of day you give the best engagement with your followers and new users following your account. Tracking the data gives you the information yo0 need to adjust your content strategy and keep your following growing to influencer status.
How to Get More Influencers on Instagram – Key Takeaways
Growing your following on Instagram requires a well-designed marketing plan. Your marketing plan must include strategies and tactics you implement daily to create momentum on the platform. By executing the ideas in this post, you build the framework you need to gain that momentum.
This article discusses organic strategies to help you grow your Instagram following. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to succeed on “The Gram.” Consistently execute the plan in this post, and eventually, you’ll start gaining momentum.
Start dedicated to your plan, and you’ll experience the magic of the “inflection” point of your campaign, where you start receiving tens, hundreds, and thousands of followers each day without spending any money. If you have the money, there’s no harm in tossing a few dollars at a contest, influencer collaboration, or advertising campaign. It’s a great way to add to your results, but your organic tactics should form the basis of your plan. Good luck.